The first game week of the 2013 season officially kicked off this afternoon with Panther coach Paul Chryst's Florida State preview press conference. Pitt released its first depth chart earlier today with the game notes, and here are some notes and quotes from Chryst...
- On the injury front, both running backs Isaac Bennett and James Conner are questionable at this point for the opener. Bennett dealt with a leg injury for all of training camp, while Conner banged up his shoulder late. Neither injury sounds too serious, but Chryst is taking a "wait and see" approach with both guys this week.
- Freshman kicker Chris Blewitt also missed most of the last week of training camp with a boot on his right foot, but Chryst said he expects him to be ready to go by Monday night. If he can't, it'll be redshirt freshman Brad Lukasak handling the kicking duties.
"We think Chris will be ready to go, if not we'll put another freshman out there," Chryst said. "I'm all for a freshman kickers."
- Chryst is definitely more of a tunnel-vision coach, in that he doesn't usually talk much about big picture topics like national perception or program visibility. That said, he admitted that Monday night's game is a bit different than a normal opener against a I-AA opponent.
"Right now this week, it's been more focused," he said. "I do believe games like this are why guys want to come to Pittsburgh. When guys think of college football, they think of games like these. All of that is great, and we're appreciative of the people who made this happen. Joining the ACC in this fashion is pretty impressive."
- One of the questions still lingering after training camp is what kind of role Todd Thomas will play on the Pitt defense this year. He's listed as a second-teamer, but from a pure talent perspective, it's hard to imagine keeping him off the field for any extended amount of time. Right now, it sounds like he's still on the outside looking in for playing time, but we'll see how that develops.
"Right now those three [starters Bam Bradley, Shane Gordon and Anthony Gonzalez] are going to get the majority of the reps," Chryst said. "There's also some other guys we feel good about and once we get a feel for how Florida State is attacking us, we can see. But I certainly feel good about those three getting the majority of the reps this week for preparation."
- We knew Lafayette Pitts would be the starting kick returner (he'l be joined by Jason Hendricks back there), but a bunch of guys got reps at the punt returner spot in training camp. According to the depth chart, it'll be K'Waun Williams starting the season in that spot. Chryst hinted, though, that there might be some other guys getting chances there.
"We'll see on that one," Chryst said. "It depends on the flow of the game. We really like Lafayette and thought he did some good things back there for us last year. We think Jason is a good returner for us, and we like K'Waun catching punts for us. We do have other guys we can use."
Kevin Weatherspoon is listed as the backup, so he'll probably get some looks too. The one guy who immediately comes to mind is Tyler Boyd, just because of the open-field skills he saw in high school. Reading between the lines, it sounds like Williams is the safe option for catching punts, while Boyd (or even maybe Pitts) might get a look if Chryst feels like he needs a big return.